Lots and lots of good stuff this year. There’s a ton of movies in a ton of genres worthy of your attention. World War Z was a really cool zombie flick with Brad Pitt. The House at the End of Time is a very cool ghost story with some neat mystery elements. Insidious Chapter 2 continued the pretty good Insidious series that is still going. All Cheerleaders Die is an interesting twist on high school drama. Jug Face is a weird look at backwoods human sacrifice. And Mama is a movie I understand I should have seen by now but haven’t. All worth it. Three flicks stand out more than the rest, though.
The first two fit together nicely as the start of new franchises, The Purge and The Conjuring. The Purge is a fascinating film considering the mania that is today’s political climate. For those unfamiliar, the plot goes that once a year in the United States, murder is completely legal. You can kill anyone for any reason with absolutely no repercussions. All crime is legal actually, thanks to the brilliant ideas of the new Founding Fathers, following a financial collapse. But let’s be honest, murder is the one that would get taken advantage of. So naturally, shit gets a bit crazy. Ethan Hawke stars as a father trying to protect his family from random attackers that have shown up at his door. It is a chilling look at the idea of sanctioned anarchy and a warning against those most radical of ideas.
The Conjuring, on the other hand, is a story based on a pair of investigators famous for their work with haunted cases. They come to work with a family in Rhode Island. The investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, come to believe the house is possessed by an evil spirit. One of the daughters is found dead days after the family moves in. Spirits are seen in the house. Things come off the rails in a big bad way as the Warren’s get closer to the truth. I won’t spoil it but there is a satisfying conclusion and a set up for future movies. Both flicks feature some really great performances and clever direction. Two spokes added to the horror wheel is a pretty damn good benchmark.
My favorite flick from 2013 though was the remake/sequel?, of Evil Dead. This version, by Fede Alvarez, is a straight up scary remake/sequel? of the original. It’s the version Sam Raimi would have made given the budget and effects back in the day. The one major change from the original is the character of Ash, now a girl named Mia recovering from a heroin addiction. Mia, played by Jane Levy, is a complete bad ass in this flick and one of the best developed and written female characters of recent memory. What happens in this movie, while similar to the original, is much more brutal and honest. Everything in this film was done with practical effects minus a few touch ups with CGI. The acting in this flick is powerful and raw. The emotions on display, especially in the character of Mia, are hard to get through at times. The overall message of overcoming struggle and perseverance are communicated wonderfully. The script is clever and twisty in the right places. It really is a terrific movie that you simply must see a few times. Pro tip: stick around for the cameo post credits. See you tomorrow.